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ZagDaddy
03-28-2007, 07:11 AM
From an AP Story Today:


"The bottom line is we know that in order to win these games, you have to play defense," UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said Tuesday. "You look at the Kansas game, we had 25 turnovers and still were able to win (68-55). That's our defense.

"Even when you're not shooting well, you can always rely on defense. It makes the offense easier; you can see it on our team. We create a lot of turnovers and get our good transition and easy baskets."


The Bruins finished second in scoring defense in the extremely competitive Pac-10 this season, limiting foes to an average of 59.5 points. They've improved on that in the NCAA tournament, holding all four teams to 55 or fewer points.

Shipp said Howland "preaches that defense wins championships. We hear it every day. He just makes us have pride in playing defense and trying not to let the other man score."


Howland said all the Final Four teams are stingy defensively.

"Anybody who's still alive right now in the tournament is a good defensive team or they wouldn't be playing," the Bruins coach said.

Apparently they don't know that all you have to do to win in the tournament is to score more than your opponent. They'll never get anywhere thinking like that! ;)

Birddog
03-28-2007, 07:31 AM
Box score
http://www.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/gamecenter/boxscore/NCAAB_20070324_UCLA@KS

Interestingly, the Jayhawks led them in steals and blocks, and trailed in TO's. Where Kansas really lost the game was at the line, and in fouling UCLA too much. Statistically, Kansas played slightly better "D". I get your point however, it's just that this game was not nec. indicative at least stat wise.

Birddog

sonuvazag
03-28-2007, 07:49 AM
Both good posts. Some truth can be found in the perceptions alone and how UCLA talks about itself is very telling.

The effort necessary to build a defensive rep is half the battle. Once kids buy into the idea that they can scare opponents out of the gym more easily with stingy defense, the momentum carries itself. Offensive-oriented teams can psych themselves out when they expect to face a "tough defense." Reputation counts for a lot. Sometime free throws are more difficult.:D

Other folks have posted that GU has held opponents to a lower shooting percentage than UCLA this year, but no one has argued that we take the defensive side of the ball seriously enough.

Its been stated elsewhere, but I have to agree. In the end, its the mentality.

IrishBulldog
03-28-2007, 07:50 AM
the four 3s that UCLA hit with the shot or gameclock winding down. Shipp hit one at the end of the half, Afflalo hit two in the second half, and Collison hit one (also in the 2nd half) from 23 feet with two guys in his face. Those were just tough, bigtime, contested shots.

That was an incredibly fun game to watch for those who love defense. I can't remember the last time I saw a game that was as well-played defensively by both teams. Each squad "showed" on the pick and roll extremely well, and their backside defensive rotations were awesome.

gamagin
03-28-2007, 08:27 AM
plus luck, opportunism, athleticism and dealing with all that pressure in
milliseconds, then slowing down the adrenalin for a free throw or ten, that all comes together to make a great team.

It's the whole package and the Zags are wicked close to having much, if not most, if not all, of those players & ingredients, under construction.

siliconzag
03-28-2007, 09:25 AM
said it best in the interview in the SF Chronicle. Your defense is always considered great when the other team is cold and our team is hot. On the other hand, it is my strong belief that the NCAA tournament especially the recent vintages have vindicated programs who emphasize defense. It's analagous to the the saying in golf, "...drive for show, putt for dough."

Sili

SamwiseTheZag
03-28-2007, 02:07 PM
I think that we could use a lot more of the "UCLA mentality" that we hear about so often.

Bottom line, Good Defense beats Good Offense more often than not, and especially in the NCAA tournament.

Sometimes this is a difficult pill to swallow for Zag fans, considering our defense over the past few seasons.

Nevtelen
03-28-2007, 02:22 PM
I'm just not sure that's necessarily true. You need both. The key is getting the right mixture. You can go high-octane offense and not play smothering D the whole game as long as you can get stops in key situations (or the other way - as long as you can score when it's really needed, you don't need a jet-engine offensive game). Teams who beat people with D, like Southen Illinois or Michigan St, are just as out as teams who only have offense (Tennesee, anyone?). The D trumps O argument is not the whole picture. The teams that are still in it have both solid defense and very good offense.

The thing I liked most about the Zags good defensive effort this year was that when they played it well, their D kept them in the game when their offense sputtered - against Stanford, for example, or the first half against Duke. That's what good D should do.

BobZag
03-28-2007, 02:30 PM
Box score
http://www.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/gamecenter/boxscore/NCAAB_20070324_UCLA@KS

Interestingly, the Jayhawks led them in steals and blocks, and trailed in TO's. Where Kansas really lost the game was at the line, and in fouling UCLA too much. Statistically, Kansas played slightly better "D". I get your point however, it's just that this game was not nec. indicative at least stat wise.

Birddog

Kansas missed about the same amount of bunnies that Gonzaga did. Layins weren't going in. The KU board was going nuts over it. That, and the last gasp treys by UCLA, is what beat KU.

I'd be real happy to see the Zags play D like Duke does while keeping the uptempo offense.

SamwiseTheZag
03-28-2007, 02:40 PM
I agree that it is a combination of the two for any successful team.
All four teams in the Final Four have a combo of good Offense and Defense.

I also think that the trait that all four teams possess is that they are more defensive minded that offensive minded.

I don't buy the "get key stops in certain situations" argument.
Defense is not something that a team can flip on and off like a switch.
We have seemed to use this type of "get key stops in certain situations" defense more and more these days, but when we win its with Offense. Stanford and Duke were two of the most inconsistent offensive teams that made the tournament this season, so I think using those games as examples of good defense might be a little bit misleading.

The foundation of any good defense consists mainly of a defensive attitude.
The superior defensive teams are built with superior athletes with that defensive mindset, UCLA being one of the best examples.

Look at WSU, they have equal if not inferior athletes compared to us or UW, and their defense was FAR superior this season because they bought into the Bennetts system.

I am hoping that in future years of Gonzaga basketball, with the apparent influx of talent, that we attempt a change in our defensive philosophy.

CDC84
03-28-2007, 04:18 PM
I also think that the trait that all four teams possess is that they are more defensive minded that offensive minded.

Not Florida. They're offense first, and are proud to admit it. That being said, their defense is good enough to make stops when they have to. Their defense is good enough to not diminish the impact of their offense.

The Gators have one of the most breathtaking offenses in recent college basketball history, and they won the title last year because they had by far and away the best offense at the final 4. They score on anyone. UCLA's great team defense, which was better than Florida's, couldn't do squat to stop their offense...way too many weapons.

The Gators are leading the nation in offensive field goal percentage this year at 52.7%. They also average 79.3 PPG: 14th in the nation.

Their offense is better than anyone else at the final 4, and they should win this thing again because of it. I always side with teams that tilt more towards offense than defense, so long as their defense doesn't suck and they can get stops when they have to. Teams who play incredibly great, non-stop defense for 40 minutes are usually doing so to hide their offensive deficiencies. In other words, those great, great defensive teams have no other choice but to play that way because they don't have the offensive weapons to beat most elite teams.

But it is very hard to win the title two times in a row...so much pressure. The Gators could have just one of those games where they play solid D, get their offensive looks but just can't hit a pea in the ocean...it can happen to anyone.

ZagDaddy
03-28-2007, 05:32 PM
I always side with teams that are better on offense than defense, provided their defense doesn't suck, because teams who play incredibly great, non-stop defense are usually doing so to hide their offensive deficiencies.

Hmmm, not sure I can buy that, CDC. I doubt many coaches that are recruiting players say, "Man, we don't have many offensive threats this year so I think we better play some good D." It may happen on occasion but I'd be surprised that that is the norm.

I'm betting most have a system that they believe in and recruit players who can perform within that system. Because defense is largely effort based and can be taught, I would think coaches who make defense a priority within their systems still largely recruit athletic players with offensive skills and teach and demand defensive effort to achieve their desired results. (The key word there is "demand." :) )

BobZag
03-28-2007, 05:42 PM
Agree with ZagDaddy. I thought Dick Bennett overdid the D but obviously his son has loosened the reins. Like I stated, I'd love to do what Coach K has done on D and still be an offensive team. I think since adding defensive coach Larry Shyatt, Florida has an ideal mix of good D and good O.

If a team is bound and determined to shoot treys, they will. Ohio State is a good defensive team but Tennessee still made a boat load of 3's on them. Ditto for Oregon vs USC. WSU is good defensively but Vandy burned 'em.

Good posts.

FuManShoes
03-28-2007, 06:05 PM
Interestingly, the Jayhawks led them in steals and blocks, and trailed in TO's. Where Kansas really lost the game was at the line, and in fouling UCLA too much.

Actually, I think Kansas lost the game in transition. They had a ton of steals but very few fast break points. They missed something like 20 layups. UCLA hustles back in transition like few teams I've seen and Kansas, for all it's steals and athletes, simply couldn't get an easy transition hoop. I think that goes to show that defense isn't all about lateral speed and length, it's also about hustle and just being a menace any and every time your opponent has the ball. The Zags don't play that kind of tenacious D. I chalk some of it it up to the tempo the coaches look for and the number of posessions they want, but some of it also has to do with guys not getting back, or getting back but being in the wrong position to stop a drive or transition three.

CDC84
03-28-2007, 08:58 PM
I still maintain that in the modern era, there are teams that tilt towards defense, and there are teams that tilt towards offense. You have to make a choice. The only teams that I know of that combined total greatness on both ends were the Wooden teams at UCLA...a dynasty that has never been repeated. You either have to be great and good on one end, or great and good on the other end. In my experience, college basketball titles in the modern era are generally won by teams that are great on offense and good on defense. Not the other way around.

I do believe it is possible to expend so much mental and physical energy on defense in practice and in games that it can effect your offensive play. I also believe that certain styles of defense naturally lend themselves to a certain style of offense. As much as I would like to see GU improve its defense, I don't know if UCLA, Wazzu, SIU and others of that ilk are the example to follow. I don't know if you will ever see those teams score 80+ PPG and shoot 52.7% from the floor. For Gonzaga, I'd like to examine teams like Florida or the North Carolina team that won the title two years ago...they more resemble us. Their defense was good enough to win the title, but it was of a different variety than what UCLA or Wazzu relies on.

mgadfly
03-28-2007, 10:30 PM
I believe that you have to have a good defense in order to do well in a tournament setting. A great offensive team with a weak defense (e.g. Gonzaga 2006) is subject to being bounced if they shoot poorly in 1 of the 6 games they will need to win. I just think it is easier to be consistent over a 6 game stretch on defense than offense and thus teams with good defense have an advantage in the tournament.

That said, three of the remaining four teams have more efficient offenses than defenses (see kenpom.com).

Florida #1 Offensive efficiency, #11 Defensive efficiency
Georgetown #3 Offensive efficiency, #46 Defensive efficiency
Ohio State #9 Offensive efficiency, #19 Defensive efficiency

The exception is UCLA (#35 OE, #9 DE).

Florida's national championship team in 2006 was ranked #2 in offensive efficiency and #19 in defensive efficiency. (Trivia: Gonzaga had the #1 ranked offense in 2006, but was ranked 223 in defensive efficiency)

By looking at the numbers, I think it is very important to have a good offense and defense if you are going to make it to the Final Four. Gonzaga's defense was ranked #99 this year, a big improvement over 223, so hopefully we are moving in the right direction. Even if we keep having great offensive teams, we have to improve on our defense if we want to be a title contender.

ZagDaddy
03-29-2007, 05:15 AM
I still maintain that in the modern era, there are teams that tilt towards defense, and there are teams that tilt towards offense. You have to make a choice.

On that we do agree. A perfectly balanced team is a rare, rare find. Where we will have to agree to disagree is which side of the ledger we would favor. In a tournament setting I would prefer a tilt towards D (I'm sure that surprises you. ;) ) because in a one and done environment with added pressure, nerves and intensity I think offense is more likely to suffer.

Inevitably teams have one game where the shots just aren't falling for them and they need to be able to respond or go home. If the backbone of your system is good D your team's confidence is less likely to suffer because they will feel they have the tool to respond, be better at controlling momentum and be able to create easier shots off turnovers.

I have ragged about our defense for years and in truth I did see improvement this year. I don't ever expect us to be a defensive juggernaut but until we do a better job of balancing effort, fundamentals and game plan on both ends of the court we will unlikely see another Elite 8 or FF.

gamagin
03-29-2007, 06:32 AM
but I remember what he said:

"Our goal is to have at least one more point than our opponent when time runs out."

translation: whatever it takes.

lothar98zag
03-29-2007, 01:26 PM
I believe that you have to have a good defense in order to do well in a tournament setting. A great offensive team with a weak defense (e.g. Gonzaga 2006) is subject to being bounced if they shoot poorly in 1 of the 6 games they will need to win. I just think it is easier to be consistent over a 6 game stretch on defense than offense and thus teams with good defense have an advantage in the tournament.

That said, three of the remaining four teams have more efficient offenses than defenses (see kenpom.com).

Florida #1 Offensive efficiency, #11 Defensive efficiency
Georgetown #3 Offensive efficiency, #46 Defensive efficiency
Ohio State #9 Offensive efficiency, #19 Defensive efficiency

The exception is UCLA (#35 OE, #9 DE).

Florida's national championship team in 2006 was ranked #2 in offensive efficiency and #19 in defensive efficiency. (Trivia: Gonzaga had the #1 ranked offense in 2006, but was ranked 223 in defensive efficiency)

By looking at the numbers, I think it is very important to have a good offense and defense if you are going to make it to the Final Four. Gonzaga's defense was ranked #99 this year, a big improvement over 223, so hopefully we are moving in the right direction. Even if we keep having great offensive teams, we have to improve on our defense if we want to be a title contender.
Very good post mgadfly!

GU's offense wasn't as efficient this year as the few previous years, but it was still top 20. Not too shabby.

What GU still needs to do is improve their D efficency to the point that their overall winning pythag winning % (LINK (http://www.kenpom.com/stats.php)) is top 10 in the country.


Why top 10? Because from 04 to present - all Final Four teams (except GMU) have had a top 10 pythag winning %.

Hopefully the whole team (players, coaches, etc) will do what it takes to improve the D enough to accomplish the goal of getting to the FF. And hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.

SunDevilGolfZag
03-29-2007, 05:46 PM
It's very simple -- defense gets teams to the Final Four. UCLA has what it takes. We should follow their model

Nevtelen
03-29-2007, 10:09 PM
UCLA. Blech. I'd rather stab myself with a blunt spoon.

Yeah, they play good D, but Florida, with a superior offense, laid down a whooping on them. Every team needs both, but you have to play to your strengths. GU's is offense. It won't change until Mark Few is no longer here and no one from his coaching tree is coaching the team. They're just not defense first coaches. And that's fine, as long as we play pretty good D along with the stellar O.